January 18, 2021

Some Fun with Austin Hedges, a Baseball Extreme (FanGraphs)

Austin Hedges had a disastrous season at the plate. He batted .176/.252/.311, good for a 47 wRC+ that placed him last among batters with at least 300 plate appearances. But Hedges had a remarkable season behind the plate. He was worth 27.3 defensive runs above average, second only to J.T. Realmuto and first on a rate basis among all players in baseball.

WAR gives us a handy way to convert this, and WAR was pretty happy with Hedges in 2019. He was worth 1.4 WAR in 347 plate appearances, which works out to 2.4 WAR per 600 plate appearances. An average player would be worth just under 2 WAR per 600, which means Hedges was above-average despite his sub-Mendoza batting stats.

But when someone’s batting line is as poor as Hedges’, there’s an impulse to say that WAR doesn’t capture everything. Hedges isn’t a bad hitter; he’s an exceptionally bad hitter. He had a 47 wRC+! Six pitchers had better batting lines last year. My former colleague Sheryl Ring pointed this out recently, and opined that NL teams simply couldn’t afford to carry a bat that poor in addition to the pitcher’s spot. This made me think several things at once. My first thought was “Of course not!…

Read “Some Fun with Austin Hedges, a Baseball Extreme” at FanGraphs